Baking a piece of cake for Diandra
DIANDRA GREENIDGE is all about toiling for her daily bread. Fresh out of culinary school, the 23-year-old is hungry for a slice of sweet success.
The 23-year-old became an entrepreneur recently and has already embarked on a journey to earn a piece of the pie, feverishly working to turn her talent and ideas into a thriving business – she is the proud owner of Di’s Indulgences.
After an intense internship on two cruise liners Greenidge decided to start a home-based baking business.
“I originally wanted to be a lawyer but I failed a course at Alleyne School for my Caribbean Examinations Council, so I knew I had to start thinking of another career choice.
“So I returned to school for another year and during that time my church members were undergoing the Daniel fast. I tried my hand at making some delicacies and it was at that point I realised I was into baking.”
Diandra also attributes her love for pastries to her childhood days of licking out bowls of leftover batter.
She attended PomMarine, gained her certification in pastry making and landed her first internship in the kitchens of the prestigious Sandy Lane Hotel.
“I got full marks there. This gave me the confirmation that I was in the right field. In 2013 I worked on a Norwegian cruise line and that was a completely new experience. Since then, pastry has become my passion . . . .”
Greenidge said that although she was excited and grateful for the opportunity she was a bit sad to leave her family for nine months.
“I spent two months on the Norwegian Dawn and seven months on the Norwegian Breakaway. I remember crying in my cabin every night because it was hard being by myself and my first time being away from my family for a long period of time.
“On the Dawn I had a few friends from PomMarine with me but on the Breakaway I was alone; it was as though I was uprooted from my level of comfort. The working hours on Breakaway were really long and I was responsible for a section of the Garden Café that was as big as a house, so you could imagine how big this ship is.
“I had to clear and wipe down tables, chairs, sideboards and the show window glass before I left the buffet area and that was a lot of physical labour. And if you had USPH inspection it was worse. All of the sugar caddies, salt and pepper shakers and ketchup and mustard bottles had to be washed out, sparkling actually, and most nights I went to bed exhausted.
“Sometimes I got seasick as well. My first day on Dawn was terrible; all I could do was stay in my bed. That day the sea was really rough and when a big wave passed it would literally jerk me up off the bed; then I would hit back down hard and fast. And I remember a time when I was on Breakaway the sea was rough. The ship actually listed when I was in the café. All the things on the shelves suddenly fell to the ground and I ended up stumbling on the next side of the ship. I was scared. I said to myself, ‘Look how my mother’s only girl child is going to die now’,” she said, chuckling now at the memory.
When the nine-month internship at sea came to an end, Greenidge was indecisive about what to do next. She had to make a choice between going after her longed for dream, or having another adventure somewhere else in the world. Her close friend prompted her to go after her dream and Greenidge said she is happy she took her friend’s advice.
“I think I made the right decision,” she said.
“I was born on November 25 so this month is extra special to me; I always look forward to my birthday/Independence celebrations. But two years ago I started thinking about my future. I said to myself there are not a lot of Bajan businesses around the island that we can call our own. So I took my friend’s advice to start my own company so I can help make a difference.
“Even now with our 50th anniversary approaching I am still taken aback by this fact. I want to see more successful Bajan entrepreneurs and companies flourishing in the island. No disrespect, but I think if we call ourselves independent we need to consider what it really means to be independent. I feel that if the Father of Independence [Errol Barrow] was alive he might be a bit disappointed to see that although we have come a long way in terms of education and infrastructural development, we have not been innovative enough in business and running the economy.
“Don’t get me wrong – I too love my Barbados. It is just I think we as a people can do more. Sometimes when I see how we treat each other it displeases me. For example, some of my family members know that I have started Di’s Indulgences but instead of asking me to make cakes for their children’s birthday they go to a retail outlet. They do not have to pay me full price because they are family but they would prefer to look elsewhere.”
Diandra Greenidge is also the proud mother of six-month-old Nathaniel. She said that when her business grows and Nathaniel gets of age she hopes he says, “Mummy worked hard to accomplish her dreams and I will use her as an example to accomplish mine”.
From the outside looking in, being a pastry chef seems like a pretty sweet job, but it entails hours of developing and testing new and inventive recipes.
It’s not all fondant, crepes, and crème brulée – make no mistake about it, this is a tough, challenging, and demanding role that only those who are truly dedicated to the craft can survive and thrive in.
Diandra spends long hours on her feet. Before she had Nathaniel, she baked whenever she felt like, had an order or wanted to try something new; now she works from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
She confessed that she makes “a darn good chocolate and velvet cake” and uses recipes from culinary school, her internships or the Internet but she adds her own unique twists and flavours to them.
She is also creates a variety of baked goods such as cupcakes, sponge, roulade and novelty cakes, cookies, jam and coconut puffs, apple pockets, Swiss rolls and cake slices. These pastries can be ordered in diary, nut, egg and sugar-free versions as well.
The Chalky Mount, St Andrew resident said that in all her years working in the kitchen she never mixed up an order and only had one complaint.